North-Central Minnesota Housing Shortage Addressed in Bemidji

BEMIDJI, MINN. – The rental housing market, particularly in rural northern Minnesota, continues to cause problems for low income residents. At a press conference Thursday at Conifer Estates in Bemidji, a joint Minnesota 2020 – Minnesota Housing Partnership report was discussed that highlighted the difficulties renters face.

The report highlighted the fact that one in eight Minnesota households paid more than half their total income in housing in 2012. For example, monthly affordability based on renters’ income is about $540 in Bemidji and $ 520 in Grand Rapids, yet actual median gross rent is about $660 and $580 respectively, according to American Community Survey data. According to the Headwaters Regional Development Commission, in Bemidji and many other Northwoods communities the problem disproportionally affects low-income families who need larger rental units than singles or college students.

“Homelessness in the 12 Northwest counties of Minnesota has more than doubled since 2006. Finding a solution to the lack of affordable housing for Northwoods families must be a priority. I’m glad that MN2020 and the Minnesota Housing Partnership have highlighted these troubling housing issues,” said Senator Tom Saxhaug (DFL-Grand Rapids).

He added, “The legislature is currently putting together a bonding bill that I hope will include significant money for housing bonds which will help reduce chronic homelessness and help communities like Bemidji recover from foreclosure and invest in more affordable housing units.”

You can read more about the report, “Uneven Recovery: A Look Back at Minnesota’s Housing Crisis” at

Senator Tom Saxhaug
Tom Saxhaug represents District 5, which includes portions of Beltrami, Cass, Hubbard, and Itasca counties in the northern part of the state. He is a retired insurance agent. Sen. Saxhaug chairs the State Departments and Veterans Budget Division.

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